According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, a 21-year-old white man was arrested on Tuesday night in connection with shootings at two Atlanta spas and one massage parlor that resulted in the deaths of eight people, six of whom were Asian, stoking fears that the rampage may have been specifically targeted at people of Asian descent. Two of the victims were white.
At press time it was not known if there was a racial motivation for the shootings, but Stop AAPI Hate -- an organization formed during the COVID-19 pandemic to combat anti-Asian discrimination -- called them "an unspeakable tragedy" for the victims' families and an Asian-American community that has been "reeling from high levels of racist attacks" according to the New York Times.
Stop AAPI Hate has logged almost 3,800 reports of hate incidents targeting Asian-Americans across the country since March 2020; the FBI has joined the investigation into the Atlanta shootings.
Actress Mindy Kaling also weighed in on the incidents, writing, "The targeting of our Asian brothers and sisters is sickening, but not surprising given the normalizing of anti-Asian hate speech in the past year. We have to #StopAsianHate, enough is enough!"
Japanese Breakfast singer Michelle Zauner, who is Korean-American, wrote, "We are white adjacent until we are not. Til someone calls us a chink, or mocks an accent, claims we started this virus from eating dogs and bats, attacks our elders, targets and kills us. Dunno wtf it does to say stop AAPI hate but it is important to acknowledge this is very real."
Former president Donald Trump was criticized for contributing to an environment of hostility towards people of Asian descent during the final year of his presidency by using phrases such as "Kung Flu" and referring to the global pandemic COVID-19 as the "China Virus." Banned from Twitter, the real estate mogul issued a statement last week in which he appeared to stoke the fires of hate once again. "I hope everyone remembers when they’re getting the COVID-19 (often referred to as the China Virus) Vaccine, that if I wasn’t president, you wouldn‘t be getting that beautiful ‘shot’ for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all. I hope everyone remembers!”
See the tweets below.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of anti-Asian violence you can report an incident here and check out safety tips here.